A new-generation Land Rover Defender is likely to remain on the backburner for the foreseeable future despite the fact the current utilitarian 4WD will fail to meet European pedestrian safety regulations from 2015.
“On one hand, we need to design a vehicle that is as capable off road as the current Land Rover Defender, and on the other, we need to satisfy strict new safety regulations with a modern interpretation of the ergonomically challenged Defender that will attract a much broader customer base,” Woolley said.
The current Land Rover Defender has been in production since 1991 but has not met US safety requirements since 1998.
Apart from meeting new safety regulations, the next Defender will also need to offer something of a dynamic revolution in terms of ride and handling, as well as a raft of modern electronic systems that enable the vehicle to be more urban-friendly for day-to-day use.
When the Indian-owned, UK-based company first showed the Land Rover DC100 and DC100 Sport concepts at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show it said an all-new Defender would need to hit 100,000 annual sales, with the US market to play a significant role in reaching that target.
While there was plenty of enthusiasm from the public and dealers alike for the DC100 concepts during a global roadshow, Land Rover purists weren’t convinced and the project seemingly ground to a halt.
Woolley could not confirm whether the new Defender would adopt any of the ground breaking off-road technologies that were highlighted in the DC100 – namely Terrain-i and Wade Aid – but indicated the Automatic Terrain Response that is new to the upcoming Range Rover would be a likely inclusion.